“March to Kigali” campaign launched to raise fund to eliminate NTDs

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March To Kigali Campaign
March To Kigali Campaign

“March to Kigali,” a campaign to advocate for increased and sustainable funding resources for the treatment and elimination of malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) has been launched in Accra.

The campaign, being rolled out in Ghana and some African countries calls on governments, civil society organisations and the private sector to garner domestic funds to create awareness on the diseases.

Dr Keziah Malm, Programmes Manager for the National Malaria Control Programme, who launched the campaign, said despite gains made, malaria remained a part of the top ten diseases recorded in health facilities across the country.

She said malaria was still endemic in Ghana and could be eradicated with the right resources.

Dr Malm said the NMCP had developed a Malaria Strategic Plan 2021-2025 to help reduce malaria mortality by 90 per cent, reduce malaria case incidence by 50 per cent and achieve malaria pre-elimination in at least six districts by 2025.

She said Ghana had a funding gap of 412,834,138.56 USD for the implementation of the strategic plan.

Dr Charity Binka, Executive Director of the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), said the “March to Kigali” campaign was launched in April 2021 in the lead-up to the Summit on NTDs and malaria on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Summit, she said was meant to increase global attention and accelerate action to end malaria and NTDs, which she said were preventable and treatable diseases.

“Although the Summit was postponed due to COVID-19, the ‘March to Kigali’ campaign was maintained to promote an integrated approach to advocating for the elimination of NTDs and malaria,” she stated.

Dr Binka said the campaign was building on the existing partnerships and platforms of the “No to NTDs” and “Zero Malaria Starts With Me” campaigns and strategies.

She said the launch of the campaign in Ghana, ahead of the Summit in June was to generate demand for increased funding and better management of NTDs and malaria in the country.

It is also expected to encourage a national adoption of the campaign, with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) leading the effort to create an enabling environment for social accountability, shared learning and use of information to advance malaria and NTD elimination in Africa.

The Programmes Manager of the NTDs programme, Dr Joseph Kwadwo Larbi Opare, said while NTDs and malaria were entirely preventable and treatable diseases, they continued to be a major obstacle to economic and social development in Africa, affecting the most marginalised populations.

He said “March to Kigali” was a unique opportunity to generate the political will needed to get back on track to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which include ending the epidemics of malaria and NTDs.

Dr Opare said presently, Ghana was endemic for five NTDs, which employed mass drug administration for their control.

“Limphatic filariasis is endemic in 114 out of 260 districts, 103 districts have interrupted transmission and 11 hot spot districts remain, Onchocerciasis is endemic in 137 districts, Trachoma is endemic in four regions and 44 districts while Sictosomiasis is endemic in all districts and regions, ” he said

He said an estimated 9600 snakebites were reported in the country annually but there were no established control programme and inadequate access to snake-antivenom.

The NTDs Programmes Manager said lack of funding for comprehensive research for data that could inform an efficient control programme, poor motivation of volunteers for mass drug administration (MDAs) and inadequate provision for morbidity management and disability prevention where the challenges facing the NTDs programme.

 

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